Transport and Ethics

Transport and Ethics

Ethics and the Evaluation of Transport Policies and Projects

Transport Economics, Management and Policy series

Bert van Wee

This insightful book discusses the use of Cost–Benefit Analysis (CBA) for transport policy options from an ethical perspective. Each detailed chapter deals with issues such as: the use and ethical aspects of CBA in transport, social exclusion, the environment and long term sustainability, safety, ethics of research and modelling transport. It summarizes ethics-based critics on CBA and discusses their relevance for accessibility, the environment and safety. In addition it explores ethical dilemmas of doing CBAs and CBA related research. The book concludes with possible avenues for further exploring the links between transport and ethics.

Chapter 3: How Suitable is CBA for the Ex ante Evaluation of Transport Projects and Policies?

Bert van Wee

Subjects: economics and finance, environmental economics, transport, valuation, environment, environmental economics, transport, valuation, urban and regional studies, transport


3.1 INTRODUCTION Transport policy implies making choices, for example with regard to budget allocations for infrastructure in general, choices between categories of infrastructure (e.g. rail, roads, airport, harbours), choices between options for a specific infrastructure extension, such as a new motorway or railway line, to be built, and – given the choice between a new motorway or railway line – alternatives for that road or railway line. In addition, implementing non infrastructure related policies implies making choices, examples being pricing policies, setting (new) standards for emission levels of vehicle categories, or safety regulations for vehicles. Furthermore, even deciding not to build any infrastructure, or not to change any policy, is a choice in itself. On what basis then should decision makers make their decisions? Because of all the choices to be made, there is a huge need for ex ante evaluations of choice options. Very generally speaking, several categories of indicators (outcomes of interest; evaluation criteria) can be distinguished. Often a distinction is made between three categories of indicators (often labelled as ‘dimensions’): economic, environmental and equity indicators, as introduced by the World Bank in the 1990s (Serageldin and Steer, 1994). Based on this categorization Feitelson (2002) conceptualized important categories of trade-offs between those dimensions (Figure 3.1). Trade-offs between efficiency (as part of the economic dimension) and equity are an important category of trade-offs. In the area of transport, it is generally recognized that optimal welfare will result if prices are set so that marginal costs equal marginal benefits. In the case...

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